FACEMASKS are effective safe shields against the coronavirus (Covid-19), according to a scientific review of more than 1,700 studies.
It found that those who wore masks had a seven per cent chance of becoming infected, compared to 52pc among those who didn’t.
National Taskforce to Combat the Coronavirus monitoring committee head Lieutenant Colonel Dr Manaf Al Qahtani shared the findings of six US-based scholars on social media yesterday.
The findings were published in MedRxiv, an online archive of preprints awaiting peer review certification.
“This highlights the importance of wearing a facemask,” added Dr Al Qahtani.
The initial review of the paper, titled “The Efficacy of Facemasks in the Prevention of COVID-19: A Systematic Review”, included 1,732 studies that were reviewed by three members of the study team.
There were 61 full-text studies that met the entry criteria, and 13 of them produced data that was used in the final analysis. There were 243 subjects infected with Covid-19, with 97 wearing masks and 146 not.
“Facemasks have become a symbol of disease prevention in the context of Covid-19,” the preprint read.
“However, there is still a paucity of collected scientific evidence surrounding their epidemiological efficacy in the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
“The purpose of this systematic review was to assess the effectiveness of facemasks, regardless of type, in preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in both healthcare and community settings.
“Mask-wearers had a 7pc chance of getting Covid-19, non-mask wearers had a 52pc chance, and mask-wearers had a 0.13pc relative risk of infection.”
The study was also examined separately for people in the community and healthcare sectors in the study.
More than 92pc of people were not infected when wearing a mask, regardless of whether they were in a healthcare or community setting.
Meanwhile, 83pc of people contracted Covid-19 when not wearing a mask, compared to 33pc of people in healthcare settings.
Possible reasons for this as cited in the study are: individuals in healthcare settings are more cautious with identifying and isolating infected individuals because of higher perceived risk and that they may be tested more often, and thus more likely to be aware of infection before the onset of symptoms, allowing quarantine prior to exposing additional people.